Many of the families that I know from my area attachment parenting group participate in a cooperative learning program (“co-op”). It’s pretty simple: to participate in the co-op, you have to offer at least one class. Classes can be geared toward any age, even adults, but most of our classes are for the preschool set. Once you offer a class, you can enroll in as many classes as you’d like. No one can make money off of a class; teachers can only charge enough fees to cover their expenses.
Kieran and I have participated in the co-op since he was seven or eight months old, and I have been helping coordinate behind the scenes for the last three quarters. We’ve done so many things that I never would have thought of (or had the energy to prepare) on our own. Here are a few examples: we’ve done tours of a fire station, nature centers, and a local television weather station, a watercolor class, nuudle art, puppet shows, a class where we rode a city bus, and our favorite – a music class called “Toddler Tunes” that lasted for almost a year before the mama had another commitment that prevented her from teaching it (sniff).
This quarter, the first class I offered was a “Messy Party.” Today a group of one to four year olds descended on us to finger paint with pudding, sit in a pool full of beans for measure and pouring play, stick their fingers in Gloop, and enjoy the rest of Kieran’s regular toys. Originally, we were also going to have a pool full of dried rice, painting with regular paint, and fun with bubbles and our sand/water table, but Mother Nature decided to pour on us all day. We did, however, go out and have some messy and wet fun playing in the rain. Everyone had so much fun, and since parents came with the expectation that their kids were going to be a mess, there was no tension or frustration due to smeared clothing or extensive clean-up.
Any one of these activities would be perfect for a toddler on any given day, and none of them are incredibly expensive to prepare. The pudding was simply vanilla instant pudding with a few drops of food coloring; the beans were the biggest expense but will be bagged and stored for later use (I just bought the cheapie pinto beans from Walmart). I love the feeling of Gloop, I've included the very easy recipe below.
Finger painting with pudding
Kieran is much more interested in eating the paint rather than painting with it.
How many kids can you fit into a pool full of beans?
Gloop! So fun to squish and squeeze.
2 parts cornstarch
1 part water
*Mix food coloring into water. Pour cornstarch into a bowl, add water. The mixture should feel kind of hard/crumbly, but when you hold it in your hand the Gloop will "melt" off of it. The top of the Gloop will look like liquid, but feel like a solid. It's a great sensory activity!
Have a messy day!